Stanford Coachworks’ first fleet of front-entry New Generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinters for SHB Hire on behalf of Essex County Council, are currently in build.
Essex County Council runs a scheme called ‘Ugobus’ which provides tailored transport throughout Essex using its newly updated in-house fleet of Stanford Coachworks bespoke accessible minibuses. The fleet undertakes a range of contracted work from local community transports, schools and colleges. Non-profit organisations and registered charities can also hire the vehicles with a fully licenced driver.
The wheelchair accessible minibuses are all based on the new generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and feature front entry flat floor design. All 35 metallic silver vehicles are 514 long wheelbase models and include automatic transmission, 100kph speed limiter and tachograph and a Euro 6.2 engine to ensure that they are compliant with any ULEZ regulations in and around London.
Entrance into the rear saloon is via Stanford’s cut in front entry step situated at the cab passenger door. Grab rails have been installed for assisted entry and exit with the rearmost forming into an upholstered modesty screen. For wheelchair passengers, entrance is via the PLS Access cassette tail lift located underneath the rear of the vehicle.
For the comfort and safety of the driver, Stanford installed a driver’s screen with a night blind and modified the foot well to form an emergency exit under NSSTA regulations. The driver’s seat has also been reupholstered to match the rear saloon colour scheme.
In the rear saloon the firm installed its specially designed flat floor system that eliminates any wheel arch intrusions, allowing space for up to six wheelchairs with seats removed or 15 M2 tested Phoenix Blenheim passenger seats which include both NMI seat fixings and carriage wheels for easy removal.
All of the seats have been upholstered in a brand-new 2019 grey and blue patterned Camira moquette with wipe clean Ambla breathable vinyl bases and lower back curve. The seats have been fitted with all age high visibility yellow seat belts and metro head rests which double as grab handles for passengers.
Six of the 15 rear saloon passenger seats are Phoenix Blenheim Shuffle seats which allow for wheelchairs to be fitted without having to remove any additional seats. All seats and wheelchairs can be fitted to the eight lengths of tracking in the flat floor using either the NMI removable seat fixings or Koller Fast wheelchair restraints provided.
For the comfort of all passengers rear saloon Eberspacher air conditioning and heating has been installed, along with white or blue LED interior lighting.
To aid the driver Stanford has included many safety features such as reverse warning sensors and bleepers, battery guard and runlock system. A high-tech camera system with side sensors, side and high-level rear cameras with night vision facility and an audible left turn warning has been installed and is all displayed on an in-cab monitor. Stanford also installed a cycle warning system which alerts the driver of any cyclists in their blind spots.